Ballpark Estimate: $300 to $3,500+
You’ve probably noticed that many celebrities change their hairstyles as easily as they change their clothes and shoes. Perhaps one day, your favorite actress has short sassy hair, and the next day, she suddenly appears with long, luscious locks. Wonder what the trick is? It’s likely the work of a very skilled hair stylist and some high quality hair extensions.
Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow
Want longer hair? Fuller? Highlights? Carefully applied hair extensions can accomplish these and a variety of other style goals. How seamlessly these strands of hair blend into your own, and how natural they look, depends on the quality of the hair, the color match, and how well they are attached. Further, when you invest in a good set of extensions and have them professionally applied, they should last for up to several months or more, before they need to be removed.
Going to Great Lengths
Most women prefer extensions made from human hair, because you can treat these as you would your own hair, dying the color, blow drying, curling and cutting to get the effect you desire. That’s why many salons use this option today. It’s important to know that there are different grades within human hair, though, so you’ll need to make sure you are getting the quality you expect. Lower quality human hair extensions are likely to become very dry and brittle and matte quickly, while high quality hair will be more expensive but will also maintain a healthy luster and shine for the best results.
You can also find synthetic extensions, which are less costly, but they are also much more limiting, too, since they can’t be treated with heat. This means you can’t blow dry or curl them. They will also have a bit different finish than human hair, so they won’t match up quite as well. (However, if you have a smaller budget, want to use the extensions to create a simple up-do, or plan to wear the extensions only for a short time period, buying a clip-on extension made from synthetic hair may be perfectly adequate for you.)
You should also know that any extensions you select should be the same or lighter weight than your own hair. This is an important point, since very heavy extensions can actually break your natural hair. That’s why regardless of what type of hair extensions you select you select, the healthier your own head of hair is, the better you are likely to fare.
What to Look For
Many high-end hair salons have at least one stylist on staff who is skilled at applying hair extensions. Many work with individual strands, which can be more time intensive than larger using larger areas of hair, but smaller sections usually yield the most natural results.
Just make sure that anyone you used is highly experienced in whatever technique they plan to use because if not attached properly and removed properly, you run a serious risk of having hair extensions damage your natural hair beyond repair.
To try to avoid this scenario, always ask lots of questions up front so you understand the stylist’s plan for attachment and removal. Also ask for photos of his or her work so you can be sure you like the results achieved. Finally, ask for a price quote up front, since what you can expect to spend can span a wide range.
To locate a stylist trained in applying extensions and find out what your options are, you can call reputable salons in your area, ask friends for recommendations or do a search online. You can also use an online directory such as that offered by the Hair Extensions Resource Center.
An Ongoing Commitment
Just keep in mind that hair extensions need to be maintained regularly. You can expect to need to schedule appointments every four to six weeks to have the extensions checked and any that have moved or fallen out will need to be replaced. Further, as your own hair grows, the extensions may need to be removed and re-attached in the correct place. In addition, the extensions may need to be trimmed along with your natural hair in order to keep the style and shape.
How your hair extensions will be applied can depend on your goals and lifestyle. Perhaps you have a special event and just want a new look for a night or two, or maybe you want to add more pizzazz to shorter or thin hair, and want something that can last for several months at a time.
There are numerous ways that extensions can be applied. You can have them braided into your own hair, woven in or glued in. These methods can last for longer periods of times. Or, you can even clip hair extensions in for a very temporary style boost that you can then take out the same night.
If your hair extensions are attached, they should feel like your natural hair and you can treat them much the same way, although the experts do warn the importance of taking a little extra care. You’ll need to use a special hairbrush that’s specific made to treat extensions. You should also rely on a gentle shampoo and condition to minimize tangles, and wash less frequently (once a week or so is the recommended timeframe).
What It Costs
What you can expect to spend on hair extensions depends on what type of hair you select, how much you want, and what type of application method is used. The quality of hair you select plays a crucial role in the price you will be charged. Virgin human hair, which is hair that’s been untouched by any chemical treatments, is the most expensive and the most in demand. But it also last the longest and gives the best effect. Synthetic hair is less expensive, but since it can’t be reused, so it could end up costing you more than you might expect. Further, you may just need a few extensions to add more volume, or you may prefer a full head of extension to double the length. The amount of hair used, as well as the time it takes to apply it, is also determined in the price equation.
Here’s an overview of a few of the popular attachment methods and what you can expect to spend on each. (Just remember that the type and quality of hair used, the length desired and how many extension pieces need to be applied, is a very individual thing and will all ultimately affect what you will pay.)
Hot Fusion Bonding
A common attachment method for hair extensions and also one of the most reasonable options in terms of time and cost investment. The prices start at about $300 for this method and can go on up to $500 or more. This technique relies on using a hot glue to attach the hair pieces to your own hair.
Cold Fusion Bonding
Another, newer option you can try. Instead of using hot glue, it uses a keratin-based polymer to secure the extension to your own hair. The expense is much higher than the hot fusion, starting at about $1,500 and up to as much as $3,500 or even higher. In return for the expense, though, this method is better for your hair and the results can last for as long as half a year.
A method which relies on braiding the extension pieces into your natural hair. You can choose to simply fill in thinner areas with this method, or cover your entire head to get a more dramatic effect. This can be time intensive, costing as much as $1,000 to $1,500, depending on what you get.
While these are some of the average prices you can spend, you may be interested to know that for full celebrity treatment, you can spend as much as $5,000 to $10,000 on hair extensions to gain a completely new look.
And regardless of what you spend up front, remember that in addition to your initial investment, you should also expect that maintenance visits can add another $75 to $100 every four to six weeks as well.
It’s also worth noting that your first visit to the salon to get extensions can take quite a while. You should expect to be there for about four to size hours or longer, so you’ll need to be prepared.
A Budget Option
If your budget is very tight but you really want the look of longer hair, you may want to consider clip on hair extensions that you attach yourself. These can start at $20 for a basic kit and can go on up for several hundred or more. You can find these available at beauty supply stores such as Sally Beauty, in discount stores like Target and Walmart or even on eBay. While they won’t yield the same results as having extensions professionally applied, they do offer a very easy and inexpensive way to try on a new look for a day.